Childress, Alice

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Pioneering African-American writer, actress and director Alice Childress (1916-1994) was popularly known for her best-selling novel, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," and her plays, most notably "Wedding Band: A Love Story in Black and White." In the 1930s she met and married Alvin Childress, best known for his role as Amos in the television series, "Amos and Andy. "She was a founding member of the American Negro Theatre, and in 1944 she and her husband Alvin appeared in "Anna Lucasta," alongside lead actress Hilda Simms. When the play went to Broadway, and Childress received a TONY nomination for "Best Supporting Actress."

Although she continued to act, Childress began writing plays in the late 1940s. Her first play, "Florence," appeared in 1949, and a year later, she adapted Langston Hughes' novel, "Simple Speaks His Mind" into the play, "Just a Little Simple." Her plays include "Gold Through the Trees," the first play by a black woman produced in the United States, and "Trouble in Mind," in 1955, which received an OBIE for Best Off-Broadway Play; the first black woman to receive that honor. Childress's first book, "Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life," vignettes that were first published in a column "Conversation from Life," in Paul Robeson's "Freedom" newspaper, was published a year later. She subsequently republished the vignettes in the "Baltimore Afro-American." During this time she divorced Alvin Childress and married musician Nathan (Nat) Woodard in 1957.

Childress's play, "Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White," was produced in 1966 and in 1972, at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre. Her other plays produced during the 1960s included "String," "Wine in the Wilderness," and "Young Martin Luther King." Her award-winning children's book, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," was published in 1973, and was made into a film in 1975. Throughout the following decades, Childress's wrote a number of plays which were produced in various venues across the country, ("Gullah," "Let's Hear It for the Queen," "Mojo," "Moms: A Praise Play for a Black Comedienne," and "When the Rattlesnake Sounds"), published a novel, ("A Short Walk"), a collection of scenes, ("Black Scenes"), and two children's books, ("Rainbow Jordan" and "Those Other People").

From the description of Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122531836

Pioneering African-American writer, actress and director Alice Childress (1916-1994) was popularly known for her best-selling novel, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," and her plays, most notably "Wedding Band: A Love Story in Black and White." In the 1930s she met and married Alvin Childress, best known for his role as Amos in the television series, "Amos and Andy. "She was a founding member of the American Negro Theatre, and in 1944 she and her husband Alvin appeared in "Anna Lucasta," alongside lead actress Hilda Simms. When the play went to Broadway, and Childress received a TONY nomination for "Best Supporting Actress.".

Although she continued to act, Childress began writing plays in the late 1940s. Her first play, "Florence," appeared in 1949, and a year later, she adapted Langston Hughes' novel, "Simple Speaks His Mind" into the play, "Just a Little Simple." Her plays include "Gold Through the Trees," the first play by a black woman produced in the United States, and "Trouble in Mind," in 1955, which received an OBIE for Best Off-Broadway Play; the first black woman to receive that honor. Childress's first book, "Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life," vignettes that were first published in a column "Conversation from Life," in Paul Robeson's "Freedom" newspaper, was published a year later. She subsequently republished the vignettes in the "Baltimore Afro-American." During this time she divorced Alvin Childress and married musician Nathan (Nat) Woodard in 1957.

Childress's play, "Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White," was produced in 1966 and in 1972, at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre. Her other plays produced during the 1960s included "String," "Wine in the Wilderness," and "Young Martin Luther King." Her award-winning children's book, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," was published in 1973, and was made into a film in 1975. Throughout the following decades, Childress's wrote a number of plays which were produced in various venues across the country, ("Gullah," "Let's Hear It for the Queen," "Mojo," "Moms: A Praise Play for a Black Comedienne," and "When the Rattlesnake Sounds"), published a novel, ("A Short Walk"), a collection of scenes, ("Black Scenes"), and two children's books, ("Rainbow Jordan" and "Those Other People").

From the guide to the Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Fanny Howe Papers, 1924-1993 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Negro Actors Guild of America, Inc. Negro Actors Guild of America records, 1904-1982, 1937-1982 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Olsen, Tillie. Papers, 1930-1990 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Howe, Fanny. Fanny Howe papers, 1924-2009. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Greenwood, Jane. Jane Greenwood costume designs for Wedding band, 1966. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn American Negro Theatre records, 1940-1981, 1940-1950 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Negro Actors Guild of America records, 1904-1982, 1937-1982 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca.1890-1989 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf American Negro Theatre. American Negro Theatre records, 1940-1981, bulk(1940-1950). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Schnitzer, Robert C. Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca. 1890-1989. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Billops, Camille. Camille Billops and James V. Hatch archives at Emory University. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Childress, Alice. Wedding band, 1972 July / by Alice Childress. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Olsen, Tillie. Tillie Olsen papers, 1930-1990. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Hatch-Billops Collection, Inc. Hatch-Billops Collection of oral histories, [ca. 1965-1980]. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987. Septima P. Clark papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990. College of Charleston, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
referencedIn Ingram, Judith Allen. Marymal Dryden--Judith Allen Ingram collection 1985-1995. Georgia State University
referencedIn Jane Greenwood costume designs for Wedding band, 1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Childress, Alice. Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn New York Shakespeare Festival. Press Office Records, 1957-1991 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Miscellaneous screen, stage, and radio scripts, ca. 1859-2007. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson Award corporateBody
associatedWith Ad Hoc Committee to End the Crimes Against Paul Robeson. corporateBody
associatedWith Allen, Debbie person
associatedWith Allen, Debbie. person
associatedWith American Negro Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith Barbour, Floyd B. person
associatedWith Borne, Kay person
associatedWith Brown, Janet, 1952- person
associatedWith Bullins, Ed person
associatedWith Bullins, Ed. person
associatedWith Caldwell, Ben person
associatedWith Caldwell, Ben. person
associatedWith Childress, Alvin, d. 1986. person
associatedWith Clarke, John Henrik, 1915-1998. person
associatedWith Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987. person
associatedWith Courlander, Harold, 1908-1996. person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie. person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby. person
associatedWith Dodson, Owen, 1914- person
associatedWith Duberman, Martin B. person
associatedWith DuBois, Rachel Davis. person
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. person
associatedWith Evans, Don, 1938- person
associatedWith Franklin, Alyce person
associatedWith Franklin, Alyce. person
associatedWith Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981. person
associatedWith Greenwood, Jane person
associatedWith Greenwood, Jane. person
associatedWith Hansberry, Lorraine, 1930-1965. person
associatedWith Harris, Trudier person
associatedWith Harris, Trudier. person
associatedWith Hatch-Billops Collection, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Haynes, Hilda, 1912-1986. person
associatedWith Hay, Samuel A person
associatedWith Hay, Samuel A. person
associatedWith Heckart, Eileen, 1919-2001. person
associatedWith Hovey, Serge. person
associatedWith Howe, Fanny. person
associatedWith Howe, Fanny Quincy. person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Ingram, Judith Allen. person
associatedWith Jessye, Eva, 1895-1992. person
associatedWith Killens, John O., 1916- person
associatedWith Koppleman, Susan person
associatedWith Koppleman, Susan. person
associatedWith Lattery, Kristen Hunter, 1931- person
associatedWith Martin, Helen, 1909-2000. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Mayfield, Julian, 1928- person
associatedWith Murphy, Carl, 1889-1967. person
associatedWith National Rainbow Coalition (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Negro Actors Guild of America, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Shakespeare Festival. corporateBody
associatedWith Olsen, Tillie. person
associatedWith Olsen, Tillie, 1912-2007. person
associatedWith Olson, Tillie, 1912-2007 person
associatedWith O'Neal, Frederick, 1905-1992 person
associatedWith Papp, Joseph. person
associatedWith Patterson, Louise Thompson, 1901-1999. person
associatedWith Rainbow Coaltion. Roosevelt Island Chapter (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, Flora. person
associatedWith Robeson, Eslanda Goode, 1896-1965. person
associatedWith Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976. person
associatedWith Schnitzer, Robert C. person
associatedWith Scott, Hazel person
associatedWith Scott, Hazel. person
associatedWith Shearer, Jacqueline. person
associatedWith Shine, Ted. person
associatedWith Shockely, Ann Allen, 1927- person
associatedWith Snyder, Anne person
associatedWith Snyder, Anne. person
associatedWith Taylor, Clarice, 1927-2011. person
associatedWith Walcott, Derek person
associatedWith Walcott, Derek. person
associatedWith Wallace, Emmett Babe, 1909-2006. person
associatedWith Ward, Theodore, 1902-1983. person
associatedWith Washington, Mary Helen person
associatedWith Washington, Mary Helen. person
associatedWith Wideman, John Edgar. person
associatedWith Woodard, Nathan person
associatedWith Woodard, Nathan. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Soviet Union
Soviet Union
Subject
Women in the theater--United States
American drama--African American authors
African American actresses
Black author
African American authors
Women in the theater
African American dramatists
African American theater
African Americans in the performing arts
Dramatists, American--20th century
American drama--20th century
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1920-10-12

Death 1994-08-14

Information

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